As U.S. tourists visit Toronto, carding remains an issue

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Tom Godfrey By Tom Godfrey
Wednesday July 22 2015




In the last few days I have seen U.S. vehicles filled with tourists from New York City, Florida, Ohio, Georgia and even Texas cruising around our city.

It seems like we are teeming with visitors here for the Pan Am Games and now the Toronto Caribbean carnival parade that takes place next week.

The visitors remind me of what a beautiful city we live in. Visitors love it here and most do return because we are a friendly bunch and the city is safe and clean.

But as we know there are simmering concerns in the community, like the uncalled for street checks of young men by Toronto police, that when corrected will make our quality of life even better.

Partiers driving or flying to Toronto for the August 1 parade are here to visit family or friends, eat some good food and jump up behind the bands near the water. They feel free and for the most part, Toronto cops stand back and keep things safe for all.

Hundreds of officers work long hours in the heat to ensure traffic is moving, no one falls under a float or are injured in the crowd. It is tough and demanding work that is well appreciated by the community.

Our visitors feel safe to walk on our streets and in our communities at all hours and they return year after year.

We, like our friends from the U.S., also have concerns regarding police and our equal rights and freedoms, when it comes to the carding issue of young men.

Recently there have been anti-police protests from demonstrators tired of the carding and racial profiling by police of young Black and brown-skinned youth. Just last week, members of Black Lives Matter Toronto demanded answers from city officials on the treatment of Blacks and mentally challenged men.

The hot-button carding issue has been handed over to the Ontario government for review in regards to a progressive street-check policy that is agreeable to all.

It was not long ago that U.S. visitors driving across the border to Toronto for the parade and other festivities were treated as suspects and forced to undergo checks by border officers. That has lessened to a certain degree.

Our hotels this week are packed and many restaurants in the downtown and outlying areas are reporting brisk business from patrons here to celebrate what used to be called Caribana.

The stream of Americans also stems from the low Canadian dollar. Many stock up on hard-to-get food or other items to take back home. You can hear the many accents spoken by Americans depending on the city that they arrive from.

And as the party continues, we cannot forget about the thousands of men who have been carded and whose names are in police databases for no reason other than hearsay information that won’t stand up in court.

There are calls for the names on the databases to be purged, removed or not be used by the force at all since it can lead to the youths being criminalized or being refused jobs or loans.

And this year with the annual jump-up turning 48 years old and with Chief Mark Saunders in favour of carding, somehow it seems like our relationship with the force has not matured over the years as it should have.

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